A new support service aimed at safeguarding vulnerable young people is being launched to tackle growing risks of child exploitation.
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, alongside Derbyshire City and County Councils, has jointly appointed social justice charity Catch22 to deliver the new Children at Risk of Exploitation service, which will support children and young people vulnerable to all types of exploitation, particularly sexual.
The service, which will receive £469,147 of funding from the PCC over the next three years, went live on January 13 and will support children and young people deemed to be at medium to high risk of being abused.
It is being designed to increase their future resilience by delivering person-centred support. The service will receive referrals from police, health and other professionals as well as encourage individuals and families to self-refer young people for help.
Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa said: “Young people today face a growing number of risks, many of which have been fuelled by an increase in accessibility through technology and social media. Some are more vulnerable than others, particularly those with low self-esteem, poor mental health and a lack of confidence. It is vital we offer professional support where it is needed to help children mitigate the risks they are exposed to today.
“Preventing crime really means preventing people from suffering the anguish of becoming a victim. We know that abuse, in all its guises, can cause a lifetime of psychological harm. We must do everything we can to support young people’s mental wellbeing and ensure the choices they make now protect their future safety.”
Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse and occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity. This can be in exchange for something the victim needs or wants and/or for the financial advantage, or increased status of the perpetrator.
Victims may still have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.
The exploitation of children is a growing concern across the country and research has been undertaken locally and nationally to gain a better understanding of vulnerability, enabling professionals to identify risk factors and potential victims.
Exploitation includes issues such as Female Genital Mutilation, Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence, Trafficking and County Lines, Modern Day Slavery, Extremism and Radicalisation, Online and offline abuse and gang-related activity.